In this series, we talk to three NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) alumni on their first jobs fresh out of uni, including how they got there, what do they do, and how NOC has impacted their careers. #NOCBeyond #NOCAlumni #3000StrongCommunity.
Jia Li had just completed the NOC programme in Shanghai last July, where she did her internship with the We Are Social Shanghai team. She came back inspired, and decided to take on the role of Product Operations Intern in Carousell’s Product Team for Community (Groups), and later joined the Marketplace Experience Team full-time.
Why did you decide to join Carousell?
Well, it all started with an advice nearing the end of my NOC internship stint. “Pick the fastest growing industry and the right city to be in.” — Ms Jane Sun
It was our greatest pleasure to have met Ms Jane Sun, CEO of Ctrip, on our visit to its headquarters in Shanghai. Ctrip is the largest online travel agency in China and the second largest travel tech company in the world. The visit was organized by NUS Overseas Colleges as part of an entrepreneurship and leadership learning journey.
She shared that being part of a high growth startup is crucial due to the bountiful opportunities and steep learning curve. That’s how I thought of joining one of Singapore’s homegrown fast growing startups — Carousell. I wanted to also experience working at NOC Alumni startups and of course, to be part of the vibrant South East Asia’s tech scene.
When I came back from Shanghai, I took the challenge up by working with the Product Team for Community (Groups) as Product Operations Intern. After which, I was converted full time to work with them in the Marketplace Experience Team leading customer experience for merchants/businesses.
What have you achieved in Carousell so far?
In Product Team, I worked on creating a replicable playbook to make Groups more active and engaged across 5 markets. With the guidance from Hui Yi, my ex-product manager (also from NOC SV/SG), I led the validation of Group Insights to help Group Admins improve their Groups. I seeded the Group Fitness Junkies, for which our team saw a 50% increase in Group Members over several weeks! On top of that, I flew to Hong Kong for a user research trip on Groups and also co-organized a Board Games community meetup in Singapore.
“Jia Li is a relentlessly resourceful team mate who gets the job done, no matter what it takes. Working with her was a joy, because her passion and self-motivation towards serving our Carousell community meant that she learnt and picked up things really fast. Her curiosity was also well appreciated within the team, as we welcomed thoughtful questions which helped the team to improve on our decision makings.” - Hui Yi, Product Manager Of Central Product Team
Currently, in Marketplace Experience aka the Operations team, I created and revised workflows to address Advertising related enquiries and merchants in a more efficient and effective way. I have also been working closely with the Marketing, Sales and Product team so as to reach quarterly business objectives. In addition, I have brought more user sentiments to the table, especially when there are new launches of advertising products. My manager, Lynette (NOC SV alumna), and I are currently in the midst of exploring live chat functions on our upcoming website for our merchants, so stay tuned for that!
How has being on NOC made an impact on your career?
NOC has truly been life changing for me, more than just in my career.
If there’s one thing NOC has taught me, it’s really about possessing an entrepreneurial mindset in everything we set our heart and mind on. It’s way more than knowing how to build a startup. During my internship stint, it allowed me to develop skills like problem solving, adaptability, resourcefulness, self awareness and being self motivated. On the other hand, the NOC modules, especially New Venture Creation, encouraged me to not only be a dreamer or ideator but to also learn how to fail fast and be opportunistic. Working at startups made me realize how developing such transferable skills and an entrepreneurial mindset are more important than focusing on getting a high paying job.
After spending a year in Shanghai, where people came from different backgrounds or work experience, it gradually opened up my curiosity to learn and unlearn everything I knew back home. I also picked up empathy as I interacted with such a diverse group of people in a cosmopolitan city. In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, the author Harper Lee writes, “you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it”. That’s exactly what I did. I lived and ate like a local and made friends from more than 10 countries for a year where I intentionally learnt all about their cultures and stories. Today, I feel very comfortable working alongside my colleagues who come from India, Malaysia, Taiwan and Philippines etc. Google Hangouts is now my best friend at work since Carousell operates in 8 markets! (This is a skill too!)
What excites you about going to work every day?
People here are extremely approachable, kind and friendly and that’s what I love the most about Carousell. My personal favourite event is Family Friday where we huddle to eat free buffet food and chit chat together. We work hard but we also play even harder together *wink*
2) Direct Impact
Another thing of course that excites me is the direct impact I am providing to our users. In my current role, I work on delivering the best experience to our merchants/businesses through customer service and tech support on our suite of advertising products. I also support the Sales team with their clients daily on account related issues as well as ensuring their clients are able to use our advertising products successfully.
3) New challenges
Last but not least, I enjoy the new challenges that problem solving brings. I recognise that there would always be a problem to solve every single day at work and if not, I am probably not digging deep enough to find one. Some of the common challenges most startups and myself face are thriving on limited resources, embracing the diversity of our employees or even constantly finding product market fit.
What is your proudest moment at Carousell?
My proudest moment is speaking in front of a hundred people during one of the community events that I co-organized — Board Games Night. I shared about the functions and value Groups bring and ultimately Carousell’s passion for the Community we serve. Public speaking has always been my fear. Looking back, I overcame my fear with that first little step of courage and it has always been my proudest moment in my Carousell journey. Because of that, I will always be thankful for that opportunity to share about Carousell Groups as it gave me a boost in my confidence level :-)
“Jia Li is very optimistic and takes great ownership in solving problems. She is also very proactive in reaching out to stakeholders to understand the issue in details. In addition, she is not afraid to get her hands dirty and try to fix the problem in a scrappy manner before creating processes and having it being followed.” — Lynette, Head Of Marketplace Experience Team
Any advice for your juniors keen on joining Carousell?
- As it all started with an advice by Ms Jane Sun, I would also love to share this piece of advice to those reading this: “Pick the fastest growing industry and the right city to be in.”
- Constantly have a growth mentality, and expect yourself to be challenged
- Have grit — be someone that demonstrates passion and perseverance towards a goal despite being confronted by significant obstacles and distractions
- Relevant internship experiences (bonus)
I’ve been here both as an intern and also joined back as a graduate full timer, so feel free to chat me up, would love to share more about Carousell’s culture!
Career opportunities with Carousell
If you are someone that is interested in how tech can solve problems and deeply resonates with Carousell’s mission (inspiring every person in the world to start selling and buying to make more possible for one another), this could be the place for you to start solving meaningful problems with us!
I’m looking for a Customer Experience Intern/Contract 3–6 months that can preferably start in early Sept 2019, email me if you are interested!
NOC recruitment now on!
We count down to the last 3 days to apply for NOC!
NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) offers students the chance to work in the hottest start-up industries and study at renowned partner universities. Applications for the Jan 2020 intake will close on 30 Aug — Apply now at http://bit.ly/NOCApplyInfo